The German sprinter was left with a bleeding head midway through Thursday’s stage three, and told reporters at the finish that this was not as a result of any normal racing incident.
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“No, I didn’t crash. I was punched by Grivko from Astana in my face. It was certainly not fair at all, and for sure it affected me.”
Kittel was seen in discussions with race commissaires midway through the stage, and after the finish UCI officials took the decision to disqualify Andrei Grivko over the incident.
Neither Kittel nor Grivko have commented on the exact circumstances of the altercation, although some riders said after the race that Kittel had been lambasting others for dangerous riding, before Grivko rode up and punched him.
According to former Tour de France green jersey Robbie McEwen, a rider who was once disqualified from a Tour stage for head butting fellow Australian rider Stuart O’Grady in a bunch sprint, Grivko has not been averse to using similar tactics in the past.